Perhaps the coronavirus pandemic began in a Wuhan wet market, as is most commonly claimed. But it makes no sense to dismiss the alternate theory that it escaped from a Chinese laboratory.
The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, home to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, China's most sensitive civilian bioresearch lab. Considering the destructive global consequences to both health and economies wrought by this pandemic, we need to get to the truth no matter where it takes us.
Do not misunderstand us; the virus' genetic code and its nonmaximal mortality rates suggest it came from a bat rather than a bioweapons lab project. Even if the science is strong that it originated with animal-to-human transmission, however, it's plausible that it could have been the result of botched research into bats that infected a lab worker and got outside the facility.
There is now abundant reason to demand investigation of the Wuhan lab. We know that it was investigating viral strains originating in bats. We also know the coronavirus has a high genetic correlation with bat viruses. And now we know that the lab's precautions to prevent an outbreak were sloppy.
Richard Ebright, a Rutgers microbiologist and biosafety expert, told the Washington Post's David Ignatius that he saw a video from the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention facility that shows workers "collecting bat coronaviruses with inadequate (personal protective equipment) and unsafe operational practices." The newspaper reported that State Department scientists twice visited the Wuhan Institute of Virology in 2018. According to cables, the scientists came away warning that the lab lacked sufficient safeguards against a viral outbreak. One cable read, "During interactions with scientists at the WIV laboratory, they noted the new lab has a serious shortage of appropriately trained technicians and investigators needed to safely operate this high-containment laboratory."
An investigation is justified yet more by China's repeated and systematic lying and secrecy over the origins of the virus, which means the government's story cannot be taken at face value. Even the World Health Organization, which defers improperly to Beijing, was denied access to Wuhan until late February, months after the outbreak first occurred. Was this because the Communist Party was trying to cover up the origins of the virus near the lab? Was it because China tracked the first infected person back to the lab?
China's secrecy helped ensure its internal outbreak became a global pandemic. But, beyond the secrecy, China has actively spread falsehoods, pretending that the virus originated somewhere outside its borders. The most ludicrous Chinese lie was its assertion that American soldiers brought the virus to Wuhan during an October military sports tournament.
China seems to have something to hide, and we must find out what it is.
The coronavirus has killed tens of thousands of people in the United States, poleaxed the nation's economy, and subjected our citizens to social isolation and unprecedented lockdowns. Pursuing the truth with an open mind is the least of our obligations.